25 Oct

This is not Chris.  He is enjoying a day of relaxation and full-belly-happy happiness.  I just finished the prep work for the Enchilada dinner complete with three bottles of red wine. Soon our friends, Jing and Yang will come over and they’re not much for drinking, so Chris and I will have to finish the bottles ourselves. Too bad.  Anyhow.  He’s amazing, wonderful, loving and super generous.  I’m forever grateful that we crossed paths.  Here’s our menu for you curious peeps:

Chicken Enchiladas (rice beans)

Salad (yay, we don’t often make salad because it’s pricey and time consuming)

and for the big finish: Raspberry lemon filled Devil’s food cake (homemade, in my not-so-easy-China-bake oven!)

Pictures will appear in a later post, but for now I think he looks amazing in this one, so I’ll share it.


Rachelle made him pose too many times, got this great photo.

Rachelle made him pose too many times, got this great photo.

Sick day.

8 Aug

This weekend I had the beginnings of a sore throat.  It got worse, then a little better, then I think I had a slight fever, then it went away, and now I’m coughing.  Every time I start coughing after an illness, it tends to last for weeks to months, so this time I’m going to try and actually rest and take some medicine (of the Chinese variety, since that’s what’s most available), and hopefully it’ll go away more quickly.

On the plus side, I found generic beer at the supermarket yesterday.



Here is last night’s dinner.

Fried rice with tofu, ham, and Shanghai greens.

Fried rice with tofu, ham, and Shanghai greens.

I had gone to the market to pick up groceries, but I still had some greens and tofu left over from Sunday’s run, and I wasn’t about to let them go to waste.

I had some rice in the rice cooker (the first step to most dinners I make here) and was ready to make something of it.  So I took the tofu, cut it up into little cubes, sliced up some small Shanghai greens (you may know this as baby bok choy), and opened up a sealed packet of ham that had been in the fridge for a while.  I fried it all up with some garlic in a tablespoon or two of oil, added the rice, mixed it all together, tossed in a splash of soy sauce and ground some pepper over it, and voila!  There’s dinner.  Cheap, easy, and good.


2 Jul

Rachelle has gone home for the summer to visit her family and friends.  I’m holding down the fort.  There will be either many new adventures or lots of moping.

Hope everyone back home enjoys their gifts!


5 Jun

So, last Saurday there was a “Zumba party” at the Pilates studio.  Basically this was a social/promotional event and there was food, drinks, and Zumba, as well as a demonstration of Pilates and Thai yoga.  And of course, the zumba lady conscripted me to join for a few songs.  Did I mention I’m really bad at those kinds of things?  I can’t copy people’s movement on the fly, and I’m still pretty uncoordinated.  I did eventually get the hang of it in the practice sessions, before people started showing up.  If living in China is like an RPG (and despite what that link says, I think it’s also like a CRPG), then I just did the dancing minigame.

Even if Rigel hadn’t eaten our last good USB cord, there will be neither pictures nor video of this event.

Coming Soon!

19 May

Rachelle has uploaded and organized all our photos since 2009, which means I no longer have any excuses to not write some back-posts about our travels over the past half year or so.

But first, I have a Pilates class to teach.


15 Jan

This was a triumph…


Hey, I’ve been meaning to post for weeks now but I’ve been alternately really busy and really apathetic.  Quick catchup, hopefully to be covered in more detail:  We went to Macau with Jenny and Sebastian for the weekend before Christmas.  It was a lot of fun.  I didn’t think I would enjoy it as much as I did.  There were lots of pictures since we enjoyed both the gaudy vegasy parts and the historic old parts.

We also have a new family member.  We adopted a Chinese…lagomorph.  Yes, we have a new baby bunny.  Our current goal is to get him to stop peeing everywhere.  Or at least not on everything we care about.  It’s nice having another little source of chaos.

I’m done teaching, since the teacher I was filling in for finally managed to get his paperwork in order.  This gives me more time to study, but also less money.  So we’ll have to tighten our belts a bit until I find a way to make up the difference.  I don’t happen to have any readers with more money than they know what to do with, do I?

NEXT WEEK.  Vacation in Thailand.  Rachelle has a friend in Bangkok and we’re going to spend over a week there and on the beaches of Koh Samet, and in a little town on the River Kwai.  Yes, THAT River Kwai.

There will be lots more pictures and hopefully lots more words.  HOPE YOU ENJOY.

Some of you may have seen my earlier post about trying to find a good DE razor in China. I did eventually find a Weishi 9306-C, and had an acquaintance order it for me, as most of the payment options on that site are not really useful to anyone lacking a Chinese ID card or some special information that I must not be privy to. Anyway, it arrived last night, with a pack of Dorco blades and some Gillette Super Thin Platinums (with Vietnamese [I think] text on the package). I resolved to test my new pride and joy the next morning, using the Dorcos because I had heard they were fairly forgiving, and I was, to be completely honest, a little intimidated.

I should probably inform you all at this point that I had been participating in No-Shave November, and no I did not have electric clippers and no I wasn’t about to give Park’n'Shop any business today, they gave me change in counterfeit bills last time. I trimmed it down as best I could with some scissors instead. So I took a quick shower and washed my face with some glycerine soap and tried to get as much hot water on my beard as I could before it ran out (the plumbing in this building is atrocious), and continued my prep. I had been using a brush and shave soap for some time with my cartridge razor (a store brand which was, surprisingly, much better than the Gillette Fusion I had butchered my face with long before), so I lathered up as usual, although with more attention to detail. I found an effective angle for the blade and went to town. It took two terribly long passes just to whittle the beard down to what could be called stubble, but to my delight, when, after mere millimeters had covered the blade with hair, all I needed to do was pass the head through water and it was clear! The multi-blade behemoths would always clog up so badly that it would sometimes take a few cartridges to do away with long stubble, but this could handle a full beard with hardly any difficulty.

Finally, I made a third pass, XTG mostly. It wasn’t completely smooth, as that would have required another pass and I could feel some irritation by the third, but all things considered, my shave was successful, and I managed to not slice myself up. I’m going to try and get closer (probably with a fresh blade, since this one probably had a few shaves’ worth of wear today) in another day or so.

tl;dr: First shave with DE went well.

My goofy face before and after: before before after after

*note: DE = double edge, XTG = Across the Grain*

*Other note, I love my ums even if she prefers me looking like an old man.*

I may have said a thing or two, either on this blog or elsewhere, about how China seems to follow different laws of physics.  For example, there is a stick of deodorant that I KNOW made it to China.  I used it the first week or two after we got here.  Now it is nowhere.  I don’t want to buy a new one, because fuck Parknshop, and I have resigned myself to occasionally using my wife’s.  Sure, I smell a little dainty, but it’s better than beef stew (don’t get me wrong, I love the smell of a good beef stew, just not when it’s emanating from under my arms).

I would also like to introduce the phenomenon we have come to know as ‘softbrick.’  Soon after we arrived in Guangzhou, my wife stopped on a sidewalk in the middle of Zhujiang New Town and announced that she thought she had stepped in something squishy, and possibly fecal in nature.  Upon this declaration, Jenny and I joined her in searching the area to find the offending pile, only to conclude that there was nothing in the immediate vicinity apart from ordinary paving bricks.  The only logical explanation was that one of the bricks had briefly changed consistency, most likely just to fuck with us.  One month later, it happened to Jenny.  Fucking softbrick, man.

I don’t think I need to go into much detail about the winding alleyways that are somehow longer than the blocks of buildings they cut into, yet never emerge on the other side…or emerge on the other side of the district, facing the opposite direction…or reach a dead end, and when you turn around you find you are on a different alley than the one you came in on.

And don’t get me started on the seemingly limitless amount of phlegm an average Chinese man can produce and distribute on the sidewalk.

Man, this shit just ain’t natural.

Birthday Party!

1 Nov

Some of you might know that I recently turned 28.  So this past Saturday, we had the birthday party that Rachelle had thrown for me. She had started planning a great event, with part of the area north of the hotel reserved, and food from the nearby restaurant provided to all, but as often happens in China, our plans didn’t hold up against reality.

First off, it gets dark -really early- in Guangzhou, on account of the whole country using a single time zone. The gazebo did not have lighting, or tables, or really anything, and we found out we’d have to provide all of that ourselves. Of course we’d also have to provide our own dishes and utensils, and as the end of the week drew near and Rachelle had to spend the next two days working in Zhuhai all day, we found this plan impossible to execute.

And then an idea hit us! Why not a pizza party at our apartment? BLAM. Rachelle was a little stressed at this point so I took over party-planning duties, and shot off an email to one of the students who had helped us out on our first days (and was, naturally, invited). There was a Pizza Hut right down the road, so I had something to work with. The next evening, I met Candy and her friend and trusty sidekick Ann for a scouting mission to the Pizza Hut.

There was a line. Also, upon talking to the lady at the front, we found that this particular one didn’t deliver, but we could order in advance and pick it up there. Well, okay. After about a half hour of waiting (next to a very loud man who came along after we did) we got in, and holycrap. This is not your American Pizza Hut. I had heard that they upscaled it for the transition to China, but…it was fancy. I didn’t have my phone to take a picture of the place, so just take my word for it. Moreover, pizza was just a small portion of the menu, and most people who ordered pizza got a personal-sized one and ate it with a knife and fork. But there were pasta dishes (and not the stuff you might be thinking), all manner of appetizers, soups, salads, and even steaks. And a complete wine list. Okay then. Anyway, we sampled a few varieties of pizza, I brought one back for Rachelle to enjoy after her long day in Zhuhai, and we agreed to reconvene before the party to place the order.

The day of the party came, and we found ourselves unable to figure out how to place the order. Shit. The website was not very intuitive, even for native Chinese speakers, and we couldn’t find a working phone number for the place. Candy and Ann said they would run off and get the pizzas while we finished preparing things. After rearranging the layout of our apartment, I headed down to the beloved Dig-n-Shop and purchased no less than ten large bottles of beer, mostly Tsingtao with a couple Harbin tossed in for good measure – as much as I like Zhujiang, the kind they have in the bottles down there is not their best brew. Fortunately, I brought along a large shopping bag to carry my loot back up the stairs. I came right back down and met Helen, my wife’s graduate student assistant for her side job, who helped order a few more food items for the party from the restaurant next door, namely, one jin of jiaozi (dumplings, the Japanese name, gyoza, is more popular in the States), and a large plate of noodles (for long life, of course). Shortly afterwards, people started arriving. Jenny came bearing a four-pack of Jack Daniels and cola, but Sebastian had some Important German Professor Business to attend. Paul came, and brought a large bottle of deadly Chinese liquor as a gift (“Someone gave it to me once, and I wasn’t going to drink it”). Helen and her friends came bearing a bright pink package containing two boxed table screens, which I will show later when I get a chance to take pictures. Also in attendance were at least four of Rachelle’s students (including our loyal pizza-troopers), and one of my classmates, who was able to stop by on his way to a Halloween party. Which explains the FBI tactical gear. There was eating, drinking, singing (of Happy Birthday as well as 生日快乐), and even a little dancing Gangnam Style.

And, pictures were taken. ENJOY.

ALSO!  Last night I had a taste of durian gelato.  It smelled much like durian, and tasted kind of sweet, with a steak-and-garlic aftertaste.  Not horrible, but I can see how it’s an acquired taste.